Information and news about nigeria

Nigeria's Food System
Currently, Nigeria stands as the most populous country in Africa at approximately 200 million. The United Nations (U.N.) projects a short-term baby boom in sub-Saharan Africa. However, as Nigeria’s population increases, it food systems cannot keep up. In fact, 60% of Nigeria’s population lives below the poverty line. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 20% of Nigeria’s population suffers from moderate acute malnutrition, and another 6% experiences severe acute malnutrition. In a country that dedicates 78% of its land to agriculture, how is this possible? Here is information about Nigeria’s food system along with measures to improve the situation.

Nigeria’s Need for Sustainability

Periodic droughts and floods affect rural areas lacking infrastructure. In addition, the northeastern conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, which began in 2009, significantly impacts Nigeria’s food system. According to the U.N.’s Resolution 2417, hunger perpetuates conflict and vice versa. War and displacement can also interrupt food systems. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s struggle mainly occurs in rural, agricultural areas.

As of July 2021, Nigeria’s conflict displaced 2.9 million people. Medecins Sans Frontieres describes the conflict as a “war without wounded” because many Nigerians suffer malnutrition. The WFP found that 4.4 million Nigerians required food assistance from June to September 2021. Along with aid that international organizations like World Food Programme, Medicins Sans Frontieres and UNICEF are providing, Nigeria is working to develop its food system in other ways.

Nigeria’s Food Systems Summit Dialogues

Nigeria works to support itself by participating in the United Nations’ first Food Systems Summit, which launched in September 2021. The Summit aims to create sustainable food systems adhering to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In preparation for the Summit, Nigeria began its Food Systems Dialogues in February 2021. Vice President Osinbajo stated that the meetings serve to “effectively articulate feasible pathways to sustainable, resilient, and equitable food systems for Nigeria.” Nigeria intends to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.

The Food Systems Dialogues gathered Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; U.N. representatives; bipartisan political representatives and non-governmental organizations. With more than 4,000 participants, the discussions considered issues and goals for improving Nigeria’s food system. Some stakeholders in attendance included rural citizens, women, private businesses and youth groups. The meetings resulted in 50 short and long-term actions drafted in the “National Pathways to Food Systems Transformation.”

Improving Nigeria’s food system involves reforming land tenure systems, developing food systems pathways, investing in alternative power and paving rural roads. Infrastructure development remains key in developing Nigeria’s human capital and reducing poverty. For instance, Nigeria only has 60,000 kilometers of paved roads. Paving roads would increase food accessibility and ensure better agricultural pathways. Moreover, Nigeria also intends to provide opportunities for youth and women. More than half of Nigeria’s population is between 15 and 64 years old. Investing in youth and women would benefit future agricultural workers and impact population growth.

Looking Ahead in Nigeria

Fulfilling the actions that the Food Systems Dialogues have laid out would greatly benefit Nigeria. Without change, Nigeria will continue to struggle to feed its population. Revamping Nigeria’s food system would curb population growth and help to bring 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. Further participation in the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit will enable Nigeria to adopt agricultural methods from other member states. Nigeria’s pre-summit efforts prove its willingness to pursue a sustainable food system.

– Dana Gil
Photo: Flickr


One cannot peg conflict in Africa to a sole cause. In fact, a multitude of causes has paved the way for the world to form a generalized opinion of the continent as an area that is inherently dangerous and violent, a faulty but dangerous conclusion that gives cause not to tackle an issue that the nature of the continent itself causes. Although conflict is an inevitable course of human interaction and an undiplomatic resolution to conflicting interests anywhere, such as in Africa, Mexico, Peru and Guatemala, it is unlikely to bring stability to Africa.

Causes of Conflict

Incompetent leadership, corruption, poverty and colonial influence each have their role in the conflict that reverberates across the African continent. European powers’ 19th-century colonialization saw the arbitrary boundary setting that split ethnic groups and placed rival ethnicities within proximity of each other. The Akan-speaking people lived in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Embezzled funds by leaders play a significant hand in the conflict in Africa by petrifying efforts towards political integration and socioeconomic stability, compelling enough of an issue that the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union adopted the “Africa Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption” in 2003. Weakness, corruption and lack of sufficient patriotism characterize leadership in much of Africa, resulting in civil wars in African countries such as, but not limited to, Sudan, Algeria and Liberia.

Poverty’s Role in Conflict

Desertification in Africa speaks of its harsh environment and plays no small role in poverty and has caused notable famines in countries like Ethiopia and Mali, bringing the number of people living in extreme poverty up from 217 million to more than 300 million people between the years of 1987 and 1998. Poverty is a cause of conflict. Conflict in Africa, and anywhere, stalls socioeconomic development and ensures that poverty statistics improve only marginally if at all. Conflict brings down the physical infrastructure of an affected area and likewise destroys the social fabric that takes its forms in loyalty, patriotism and mutual relations. The world has seen time and time again the fruitful reconstruction of an area that war plagued, with the condition that those reconstructing come to a common aim. These conflicts also raise unemployment levels due to a lack of education and economic empowerment.

The Challenges of the Fertility Rate in Africa

A total fertility rate of 4.8 births per woman complicates poverty reduction efforts by complicating a demographic shift that can lead to fewer youths, which means more investment per youth for the development and fulfillment of economic potential. It also offsets poverty reduction progress by increasing the number of people being born into poverty. For example, extreme poverty decreased considerably between 1990 and 2015 inclusive, yet the number of poor people increased to 413 million people from 278 million people.

Solutions to Conflict in Africa

Finding solutions to conflict in Africa is pressing, but poverty eradication and better leadership should be a part of them. A common denominator in developed countries and fueling conflict in Africa is economic and political inclusivity, something lost on developing countries that tend to rule more authoritatively, benefitting those near them at the expense of the rest. Donald Duke, who was a former governor of Cross River State in Nigeria likened the leadership dynamic in Nigeria to that of a pilot who flies a plane but has never been to pilot school. Duke stated that “when the plane crashes, everyone blames the pilot.” Duke also remarked that the question is where are Africa’s leadership “flying schools?”

The disconnect between leaders and the populace is an additional factor, and the age is a subfactor with most African leaders being 55 years of age at minimum, prompting calls for youth inclusion, championed by programs such as the United Nations Population Fund Global Youth Advisory Panel and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, although this only scratches the surface when speaking about total youth involvement.

Youth leadership would benefit Africa greatly, which would require courage on the end of the youth, and understanding and support from older leaders. Youth-led movements such as Y’en a Marre and Balai Citoyen in Senegal and Burkina Faso respectively speak of the youth capacity to instate programs and policy, even at ground level.

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in Nigeria
Disability and poverty in Nigeria have a complex relationship. Socioeconomic and structural factors both play a role in understanding the relationship between disability and poverty in the country.

About Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Nine out of 10 people with disabilities in Nigeria live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. In addition, employment options are limited in Nigeria, making it difficult for people with disabilities to emerge from poverty. Fortunately, the Inclusion Works initiative works to improve inclusive employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Nigeria. With funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office of the United Kingdom, the program began in 2018. The program’s deliverables include partnerships with private, public and civil society to influence the inclusion of women and men with disabilities in formal employment.

Disability inclusion also plays an important role in addressing the relationship between disability and poverty. The World Bank has reported that people with disabilities in Nigeria consistently face “stigma, discrimination and barriers to accessing social services and economic opportunities.”

About the Correlation of Disability and Poverty

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to participate in certain activities and interact with the world around them. In a critical review that the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development funded, Dr. Nora Groce found that education was a key factor “in determining poverty during adulthood for people with disabilities.” According to one of the studies that the review cited, multidimensional poverty is a reason why children with disabilities frequently do not attend school.

The World Bank states that 1 billion people or 15% of the world population experiences some form of disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that disability is most prevalent in lower-income countries and that disability and poverty correlate and affect each other.

According to a study that the Journal of Disability Policy Studies published, people have increasingly recognized those with disabilities as a high-risk population for multidimensional poverty. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) characterizes multidimensional poverty as deprivation across the domains of health, education and living standards.

Most Common Disabilities in Nigeria

The interactions between disability and poverty in Nigeria are manifold. However, grassroots and governmental efforts are promoting the goal of poverty alleviation at the national level. The 2020 Situational Analysis provides two different estimates of disability prevalence: either 25 million people or 3.3 million people. However, according to a report from the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the five most prevalent disabilities include visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, physical impairment and communication impairment.

Policy Steps Addressing Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Policies are alleviating the challenges of Nigerians with disabilities. At the grassroots level, several nonprofits exist to improve quality of life, including the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and the Disability Rights Advocacy Center. Both organizations reside in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They ensure the representation of disability as a human rights and policy issue.

The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities promotes the inclusion, participation and access of people with disabilities in both governmental and non-governmental institutions. Founded in 2002 by David Anyaele, the nonprofit is working towards its mission by funding practical research, disability and human rights education, legal aid and peer support.

The Disability Rights Advocacy Center protects the human rights of people and women with disabilities. It achieves its mission through various implementation projects, including the GIRLS Project and Policy to Practice. The former project promotes disability inclusion for girls with disabilities, linking disability concerns with gender-based and sexual violence. Some of the projects’ accomplishments include a commitment from the media to improve coverage of disability issues. In addition, the project has successfully trained women and girls with disabilities to advocate for improved and inclusive sexual and gender-based violence services.

Policy to Practice and Government Efforts

Policy to Practice ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to justice for human rights complaints. Funded by the European Union, its successes include improved knowledge and skills for disability-inclusive service delivery in sexual and gender-based violence and justice actors. Women and girls with disabilities also have improved knowledge and capacity to seek justice for rights violations.

At the governmental level, laws passed promote disability inclusion. For example, the 2018 Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act prevents discrimination based on disability. Passed into law in 2019, it also requires a five-year transitional period after which transportation and public buildings must be accessible.

While the relationship between disability and poverty in Nigeria seems intractable, recent indicators at the national level have revealed a more hopeful picture. Hopefully, in time, poverty among those with disabilities in Nigeria will reduce.

– Ozi Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr

Pearls Africa Foundation
Nigerian female programmer Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s love for computers led her to a life’s mission to help lift girls out of poverty through science, technology, engineering and math by teaching them how to code. Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation, which provides more than technological skills, giving girls tools to become financially independent.

About Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin

After graduating from the University of Lagos, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation in 2012, leaving her job to dedicate all her time to the Foundation. a statistic indicating that less than 8% of Nigerian women had professional, managerial or technological jobs, a staggeringly low number, drove her to establish the Foundation. She wanted to give women and girls the opportunity to acquire the skills to change that statistic and lift themselves out of poverty. In 2018, she earned the title of CNN Hero of the Year in acknowledgment of her efforts.

The Girls and Women of Makoko

Lagos, Nigeria, has a thriving economy of oil, finance and manufacturing, however, the world’s largest “floating slum,” Makoko, is on a lagoon in the city within which 250,000 people live. The slum city rests on stilts and its residents use canoes for transport. Gentrification led to the displacement of some members of the slum community until many deemed it unconstitutional. Most people in Makoko, including women and girls, do not have access to regular food, water, electricity or education. Drawing inspiration from the aim of helping the girls of Makoko, Ajayi-Akinfolarin began the Pearls Africa Foundation.

Pearls Africa Foundation Programs

The Pearls Africa Foundation has 10 different programs to help girls learn to code, keep them safe and secure and prepare them for educational and career-oriented opportunities. The flagship program of the Pearls Africa Foundation is Girls Coding, which provides underserved girls with an education in computer programming and coding, including courses such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python. This training prepares the girls to compete for STEM jobs and achieve financial independence.

Similar programs are Lady Labs, which teaches basic IT and technology skills and provides IT experience. Empowered Hands provides vocational training such as bead-making, fashion designing, hair styling, Aso-oke weaving and more. Pearls Africa actively searches for internship placements for its students and provides scholarship opportunities through its EducateHer program.

Its mentoring activity, Safe Space, gives girls a place to cope with and address psychological trauma from their daily environments. Mentors answer questions and guide young girls in areas such as sexual health and dealing with abuse as well as cultural practices. This allows girls to understand and address their mental health issues, heal from the impacts of abuse, receive career guidance and more. Safe Space holds workshops every month to help girls build life skills and become successful in their careers.

The Foundation also has three different outreach programs: Community Outreach, Medical Outreach and School Outreach. Respectively, these efforts involve a feeding program and donations, providing free healthcare assistance in Lagos and mentoring girls in secondary schools.

Each of the programs of the Pearls Africa Foundation provides young girls in Nigeria with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty and lead successful, fulfilling lives.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

About Poverty in NigeriaThe wealthiest and most populous African country, Nigeria plays a substantial role in global poverty alleviation. Its success or failure has wider implications for the rest of the developing world. The history of Nigeria is a storied one, its chiefdoms and local tribes tracing their origins to the ancient kingdoms of sub-Saharan Africa. But, only in 1914 did Nigeria emerge in its present form under British colonial rule, followed by independence in 1960. Even then, the country suffered from the debilitation of military rule. It was not until the turn of the century that Nigeria blossomed as a full and free democracy.

Most recently, COVID-19 has dented the economy as global supply chains were sent into prolonged shock. But, a young Nigerian population meant that the human impact was minimized to a greater extent than in some Western countries. Furthermore, Nigeria is also expected to register positive economic growth in 2021. By 2100, Nigeria is slated to have the second-largest population in the world, surpassing China and trailing India. . Understanding the complexities of poverty in this highly crucial corner of the globe grows more imperative by the day.

5 Facts About Poverty in Nigeria

  1. Poverty in Nigeria is widespread. To date, around 40% of Nigerians live in poverty. The economy is dependent on oil, creating inherent vulnerabilities for supply chain disruptions. Depending on the stability of the wider world, millions of additional Nigerians could fall into poverty within a relatively short span of time.
  2. Inequality is similarly high. By the common method of international measurement, Nigeria actually has less inequality than the United States. But, this overshadows the vast challenges facing the country. Unemployment is high at 33%. Women are disproportionately impacted because of gender inequality and discrimination. Nigerian women own less property than men and a significant contingent of the female population is illiterate.
  3. The wealth gap has created the political conditions for terrorism to flourish. Boko Haram, one of the leading terrorist groups in the world, has headquartered itself on the outskirts of Nigeria. The organization is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions.
  4. Progress is possible. Over the years, life expectancy has risen. In 1960, life expectancy was 37. By 2019, that figure was 55.
  5. Nigeria is also a fast-growing economy. A recession in 2016 led to an economic contraction and the COVID-19 pandemic had a similar effect. But, these are exceptions. The economy otherwise grows quite fast. One example lies in 2014 when the economy expanded by 6.3%.

Doctors Without Borders

Times are changing. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders are taking the lead in tackling some of Nigeria’s biggest challenges. In many countries, poverty and health form a vicious cycle, with one reinforcing the other. Without adequate medical treatments, millions fall victim to poverty and lack the resources to access opportunities. Doctors Without Borders cuts the problem at its source.

Drawing on donations from across the world, the group treats more than 50,000 Nigerians for malaria, a disease mostly eliminated in the Western world but greatly affecting developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa where hundreds of thousands died in 2019 alone. At the same time, Doctors Without Borders has taken a multipronged approach by increasing hospital admission rates, allowing more than 60,000 Nigerians to receive necessary medical treatment in a hospital facility.

These facts paint an optimistic picture of Nigerian development. Increases in life expectancy and strong economic growth can also make substantive impacts on poverty alleviation. In the coming years, better resource allocation on the part of the Nigerian government can allow more flexible responses to the challenges facing the nation.

– Zachary Lee
Photo: Flickr

Local dairy farming in NigeriaNigeria’s dairy industry has many problems. Inefficiency, “lack of technical knowledge” and outdated practices plague local dairy farming in Nigeria. Thus, Nigeria does not meet its potential for establishing a thriving dairy industry. Even though Nigeria has enough cows, in 2020, it still spent $2.5 billion importing milk from multiple countries. Farmers in Nigeria lack access to infrastructure, veterinarians and technologies to improve milk collection. Fortunately, NGOs have begun operations to help local dairy farming in Nigeria meet its potential. Sahel Consulting, an agricultural consultancy firm in Nigeria, has launched the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) program to try to reshape dairy farming in Northern Nigeria. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this program focuses on local dairy farming in Nigeria.

An Overview of Nigerian Dairy Farming

Most dairy farmers in Nigeria work on small, pastoral farms. Many of these farms focus on meat, with milk as a byproduct rather than the main focus. Additionally, cows in Nigeria underperform in comparison with cows worldwide. While Nigerian cows produce “less than one liter of milk” per day, cows worldwide produce dozens, with some countries reaching 100 liters of milk per day. While this situation currently hurts local dairy farming in Nigeria, it also provides an opportunity. As a pastoral sector, the economic benefits of increased efficiency can bring these individual farmers out of poverty, lifting their communities up with them.

The Goals of ALDDN

ALDDN is taking a six-pronged approach to improving local dairy farming in Nigeria. The program focuses on farmers’ organizations, rural infrastructure, productivity, promotion of financial inclusion, education and public advocacy. By focusing on productivity improvements, ALDDN looks to increase milk volumes to international levels, increasing farmers’ revenues tenfold. The program also looks to build rural infrastructure to allow these farmers to sell their milk on the market. Much of the program focuses specifically on female dairy farmers who face financial exclusion. ALDDN aims to reach 210,000 beneficiaries, with 120,000 trained in modern dairy farming practices. The program also looks to train 50 veterinarians to help ensure the health of milk cows.

The Impact of ALDDN

ALDDN has already made an impact on Nigerian dairy farming. Arla Foods, a Danish dairy company with operations worldwide, has started constructing a dairy farm in rural Northern Nigeria in partnership with the ALDDN program. The facility aims to help 1,000 local dairy farmers, with space for 400 cows and 25 live-in workers.

Since the project began, much attention has fallen on the Nigerian dairy industry. Government-sponsored studies have recently shown the extent of inefficiencies in local dairy farming in Nigeria. Now, solutions championed by ALDDN have appeared in local magazines, with efforts across the dairy industry to modernize. Some focus on using technology to more efficiently milk cows while others focus on selectively-bred cows to produce more milk.

Efforts From Others

Other NGOs and governments have pitched in to help the Nigerian dairy industry. The United States recently donated pregnant Jersey cows to help boost milk production, hoping that in a few generations, these cows can help provide increased milk production. Additionally, FrieslandCampina WAMCO is working with communities to increase milk production. By introducing cross-breeding, the company saw a hundredfold increase in production in its Oyo milk facility, which is open to smallscale artisan farmers.

With all of the improvements and focus on local dairy farming in Nigeria, the future looks bright for this industry. More efficient cows, better rural infrastructure and better agricultural practices can help lift farming communities out of poverty, giving opportunities to those in rural communities who are commonly left behind.

– Justin Morgan
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Programs in NigeriaNigeria is Africa’s largest country with a population of more than 200 million people. However, estimates place the number of fully vaccinated at around or less than 1% of the population. This is as the nation faces its third wave of COVID-19 infections. With the help of the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country looks to successfully improve its vaccination rates and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 in Nigeria

Since Nigeria’s first known case of COVID-19 in February 2020, the country has seen a consistent spike in the total number of cases and deaths. A month after Nigeria’s first known case, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari implemented a 14-day lockdown in the country’s three major states: Lagos, Abuja and Ogun. During the lockdown, citizens underwent quarantine, travel to other states was postponed and businesses were temporarily closed.  The country then completed a gradual easing of its initial COVID-19 lockdown in phases. The first phase was initially conducted in the three major states for two weeks from May 4 to 17, but the government issued another two-week extension until June 1.

At this time, the country had a little more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases. The country then went into its second phase of easing regulations. This lasted four weeks from June 2 to June 29, during which Nigeria saw an increase of about 15,000 cases, bringing the total to more than 25,000 cases. After tallying fewer than 90,000 cases by the end of 2020, Nigeria saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in the spring of 2021 as it surpassed 160,000 cases in March.

Furthermore, Nigeria is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 cases. The country recorded its highest daily case total in the last six months when it tallied 790 cases on August 12. However, the Nigerian government is now not considering conducting another lockdown because a lockdown “stifles economic activity.” As of late September, the country has recorded more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,666 deaths.

Considering Solutions

Despite Nigeria’s low vaccination rates, hope to improve the situation remains. With donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country stands to improve its vaccination rates. In March 2021, COVAX made a significant donation to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The delivery was the “third and largest COVID-19 vaccine donation to an African country” by the COVAX program. COVAX, which aims to guarantee equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for low-income countries, donated nearly 4 million vaccines to Nigeria.

Recently, on August 2, the United States delivered 4 million Moderna doses to Nigeria. More than a week later, the Nigerian government received 177,600 Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). This donation is the first of 29.8 million vaccines that are being donated by the AVAT.

Looking Ahead

After only administering 3.9 million vaccines, Nigeria is expected to receive more than 40 million vaccines by the end of the year. With vaccine donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country can drastically improve its vaccine rates and work to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

Sabee AppNearly 200 million people currently live in Nigeria. Out of all the children in the world who are not attending school, one in five of those children live in Nigeria. The statistics of education in Nigeria paint a bleak picture as only 61% of children aged 6-11 attend primary school on a regular basis. Furthermore, in 2018, only 20% of Nigerian adults who finished primary school were literate. However, Nigeria might be turning the corner in education as many educational tech startups focus on facilitating education in Nigeria. Facebook is the latest company to invest in the development of Nigerian education through the Sabee app.

Education in Nigeria

At the moment, Nigeria’s education system suffers from a severe lack of funding. In 2020, Nigeria dedicated only 6.7% of its annual budget to education even though UNESCO recommends that a government should allocate a minimum of 15% of the annual budget toward education. Therefore, Nigeria allocates far less than is recommended.

Although education is free in Nigeria, Nigerian public schools do not have many teachers. In some regions, the teacher-to-student ratio is an astounding 1:73. The schools also lack the vital resources needed to learn and lack quality and clean facilities. There is also insufficient training for teachers in schools. The government does not have established guidelines for hiring teachers, leaving students with inadequately trained instructors. Unqualified staff means the quality of learning severely decreases.

Lastly, terrorism has impacted the learning ability of Nigerian students. Due to the Boko Haram group terrorizing the northern parts of the country, less than half of female students in Northern Nigeria attend school. Furthermore, the ongoing violence has left many schools damaged and destroyed.

The History of the Sabee App

Sabee is an educational app that “aims to connect learners and teachers in online communities to make educational opportunities more accessible.” Facebook aims to develop Sabee as a part of its long-term investment strategy in Africa. Since most people will live in urbanized areas by 2030, and with Africa’s population rising fast, Facebook wants to establish a market in the African region. The platform particularly focuses on Nigeria. This decision is based on studies that estimate that Nigeria will become the second-most populated country by the turn of the century.

The Nigerian word “sabi,” which means “to know,” is the inspiration behind the app’s name, Sabee. The Sabee app will increase access to educational opportunities and bridge the literacy gap in Nigeria. With COVID-19 still affecting many parts of the world without vaccine access, the Sabee app will help many gain access to education remotely. In addition, the Sabee app seeks to address the poor literacy rates of Nigerian women and girls.

Development and Implementation of Sabee

Currently, more than 100 million Nigerians have access to the internet and more than 95% of internet users utilize mobile broadband data. Additionally, 250,000 new internet users in Nigeria were online by the end of 2019. Facebook aims to ensure Sabee works with 2G networks to make it accessible to more people, even those with less advanced internet connections.

As of now, the app is in the testing phase, “with fewer than 100 testers” assessing the app. Facebook plans to develop the app further based on the testers’ feedback and implement another phase of testing before the close of 2021.

Several technology startups and companies such as Facebook are investing in improving the system of education in Nigeria. However, to make a lasting impact, Nigeria must dedicate more of its resources toward ensuring quality education for all youth.

– Matthew Port Louis
Photo:Flickr

lagos-ibadan railwayThe dilapidated state of Nigeria’s roads, train tracks and other infrastructure has kept 40% of Nigerians under the poverty line as of 2019. In February 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari requested the equivalent of $2.6 billion in funding to address this consistent roadblock, dedicating the majority of the funds to completing a new Lagos-Ibadan Railway. Finished in mid-June 2021, the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway will efficiently connect Nigeria’s largest city with its inland communities. The Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway will aid Nigeria’s impoverished communities by facilitating job creation and increasing national connectivity.

Wealth and Job Creation

The need to create and maintain the railway infrastructure created many jobs for Nigerians. Over its construction period of three years, when builders faced many obstacles that required innovative solutions, the railway provided employment to more than 20,000 Nigerians. Staffing, conducting and maintaining the quality of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway will create an additional 7,000 jobs.

Furthermore, projections determine that the railway will attract many national and foreign investors, especially in Ibadan. Studies by the International Journal of Business and Management Invention and Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development display the large impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on poverty reduction in Nigeria.

A streamlined connection to Lagos will help Ibadan grow and become more of a trade hub. The resulting increased FDI will supplement domestic savings and expand local technology and managerial skills for the economic development of low-income areas.

Transportation and Connectivity

The railroad will extend the lifespan of existing roads and means of transport. It will also lessen congestion for product transportation, minimize maintenance costs and ultimately aid local producers in sustaining a comfortable lifestyle. In 2018, three million passengers utilized Nigerian trains as regular transportation. About 42,000 people utilized the Lagos-Ibadan Railway in June 2021 alone.

Between Lagos and Ibadan, the railway connects eight cities and their surrounding areas. Connecting rural areas to Nigeria’s industry hubs will help incorporate rural populations into urban markets.  For example, a direct connection to the Apapa port facilitates the transportation of goods from Nigeria’s rural areas. About 70% of Nigeria’s workforce are farmers. Direct connection to a port will improve farm productivity, increase annual GDP and reduce poverty.

Looking Forward

Expanding the country’s railway network by 157 kilometers and increasing city access for millions of citizens is a step forward for poverty reduction in Nigeria. Thanks to this infrastructure update, Nigerians celebrate tens of thousands of new jobs, increased investment and more efficient transportation. The Lagos-Ibadan Railway excites Nigerians who hope to continue the spread of connectivity across the country.

Julia Fadanelli
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Elexiay Clothing BrandAs artisans stitch rows of thread, their fingers pull yarn through loops in patterns passed down across generations. Elexiay, a Lagos-based Nigerian clothing brand, takes pride in its handmade garments crafted by a team of accomplished women crocheters. Supporting a small clothing business like Elexiay allows consumers to back community-based entrepreneurs as opposed to faceless fast fashion corporations. Small businesses have to compete with fast fashion giants, which makes it difficult for these smaller businesses to thrive. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting small businesses can make a significant impact on the lives of employees. The Elexiay clothing brand empowers Nigerian women and provides jobs to help them rise out of poverty.

The Elexiay Clothing Brand

Elexiay is a brand that redefines crocheted clothing, which is often stereotyped as “grandma’s clothing.” Elexiay’s collection of products is a reinvention of crocheted clothing that keeps up with the latest fashion trends. With crocheted crop tops, skirts and maxi dresses featuring elegant slits, Elexiay displays its grasp of the year’s latest trends.

Elexiay’s signature crocheted designs serve a greater purpose than just style. Elexiay’s founder, Elyon Adede, described to The Zoe Report how vital women’s empowerment is to Elexiay. Accordingly, Elexiay solely employs Nigerian women who handcraft each piece of clothing. Many after-school programs in Nigeria teach the art of crochet. Due to the emphasis on craftsmanship, Elexiays’s employees avoid the hazards associated with factory textile production and can share Nigeria’s art of crochet with the world.

Rising Poverty in Nigeria

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, approximately 40% of Nigerians lived below the poverty line, with millions more at risk of falling into poverty. During the pandemic, international oil prices dropped. This decline severely impacted Nigeria’s economy as more than 60% of Nigeria’s government revenue comes from oil. According to the World Bank, the consequences of the pandemic, coupled with Nigeria’s oil price crisis, could “push around 10 million additional Nigerians into poverty by 2022.”

In this way, Elexiay’s emphasis on fair wages and other ethical labor practices coincides with a time when millions of Nigerians face the risk of poverty. The company’s commitment to the “creation of jobs locally” demonstrates how a small clothing business can help communities in times of economic uncertainty.

Elexiay’s Dispute with Fast Fashion Brand

Despite Elexiay’s success in designing crocheted clothing, the company has faced difficulties. For instance, Elexiay posted a picture on Instagram of one of its pink and green crocheted sweaters side-by-side with a sweater featured on a fast fashion corporation website on July 16, 2021.  The sweater sold by SHEIN, the corporation in question, used a design strikingly similar to the pattern crafted by artisans at Elexiay.

In the Instagram caption, Elexiay described itself as a “small black-owned independent sustainable business” and expressed frustration in seeing “such talent and hard work reduced to a machine-made copy.” The caption also urged SHEIN to remove the sweater from its website.

Since posting the side-by-side comparison of the sweaters, Elexiay’s post received more than 97,000 likes and hundreds of supportive comments. While SHEIN has removed the controversial sweater from its website, this is not the first instance of SHEIN being accused of stealing designs. For example, designer Mariama Diallo accused SHEIN of stealing one of her dress designs for the brand Sincerely Ria in June 2021.

Aside from feeling disheartened after seeing the sweater on SHEIN’s website, the Elexiay clothing brand founder also expressed disappointment in SHEIN’s practices overall. In an interview with Insider, Adede describes the experience as especially difficult because “SHEIN is known for its unethical labor practices, which is the opposite of what I stand for.”

Supporting Small Clothing Businesses

While Nigeria has seen a rise in poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals around the world can make deliberate choices that benefit communities in Nigeria. The women employees of Elexiay crochet garments by hand, spending days on each piece to share the art of crochet with the rest of the world and are provided with a job and an income through the process. When making the decision of whether to shop from a large fast fashion corporation or a local business, it is important to question the values that each brand holds.

Madeline Murphy
Photo: Flickr